Recruiting food engineers to get easier after £6.9M boost

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

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Hub within a hub: Sheffield Hallam University's National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering will become a hub for food and drink R&D, said Jim Moseley
Hub within a hub: Sheffield Hallam University's National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering will become a hub for food and drink R&D, said Jim Moseley
Food and drink manufacturers will be able to recruit from a wider and deeper pool of qualified engineers after the £6.9M cash injection at Sheffield Hallam University to develop a National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering, said the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

FDF president Jim Moseley told its Centenary parliamentary reception last night (July 16) that students on the UK’s first food and drink engineering degree course at Sheffield Hallam would be supported by the state-of-the-art National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.

“The £6.9M award to Sheffield Hallam University – along with a significant number of pledges of industry support – will create a cutting edge facility which will act as a hub for R&D​ [research and development] and innovation solutions, as well as providing industry the facilities for workforce development,” ​said Moseley.

Specialist engineers

“All this means, we will be creating a pool of specialist engineers equipped to meet the specific needs of the sector, with the first entrants joining the course in September 2014,” ​he added.

The food and drink manufacturing sector needed to recruit 170,000 people “across all entry points by 2020",​ Moseley continued.

He urged more FDF members to support the ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ plan to give young people experience of food and drink industry careers.

Richard Martin, chief Engineer for Nestlé UK and Ireland and chair of the graduate excellence initiative, said the investment would create "a world class centre"​ dedicated to food engineering.

“It will inspire the next generation of food engineers to achieve best practice and provide training and development opportunities for those already in the industry,”​ he said in a statement.

“Having a good supply of top quality food engineers will accelerate the food and drink sector’s growth ambitions.” 

‘Breakthrough moment’

Justine Fosh, ceo of skills council Improve and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, hailed the investment as “a breakthrough moment”​ for the food manufacturing sector.

“It is a shining example of what can be achieved when the industry collaborates in support of a shared goal,”​ said Fosh.

“The creation of this Centre of Excellence, along with the new dedicated food engineering degree, represents a solid bridge to an additional £1bn in gross value added by food and drink businesses and a significant new conduit to attracting high level talent.”

 

What others said:

Angela Coleshill​, FDF director of employment and skills: “The centre’s strong focus on mechanical engineering will be vital to helping us address industry’s current skills gaps in this area by exposing both current employees and students on the industry-backed MEng Food Engineering degree to the latest technology and developments.”

Dr Martin Howarth,​ head of engineering and mathematics at Sheffield Hallam University: “This​ [investment], along with the new food and drink engineering degree which is available exclusively at the University from 2014, helps to build on our existing strong track record of providing excellent engineering education in partnership with industry, designed to help create highly skilled and employable graduates ready for the world of work.”

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